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The Penn Medical Emergency Response Team will be offering CPR training for all members of the Penn community on Sunday, Feb. 19.

Credit: Sukhmani Kaur

Penn's Medical Emergency Response Team will host CPR training for members of the Penn community this weekend.

The Feb. 19 program will be hosted in conjunction with Penn’s Center for Resuscitation Science, Wellness at Penn, College Houses and Academic Services, JHealth, the Division of Public Safety, and the Undergraduate Assembly. The program will offer five minute walk-in training sessions for attendees, but it does not include CPR certification.

The event will take place in all college houses and Houston Hall from 2 to 6 p.m. Benjamin Abella, the director of Penn’s Center for Resuscitation Science, said that students will be able to learn what automated external defibrilators are, as well as how they work, through working at staffed tables with CPR mannequins. 

"It won't be a certification course, or even a full training, because the goal is to reach as many people as possible as they’re coming to and from things on campus,” Abella said.

While the event does not offer formal CPR certification, it hopes to instruct students with the basic skills necessary to be helpful in the case of a sudden cardiac arrest. College junior Max Yang, the chief of MERT, said that hands-on practice for students is particularly valuable compared to instructional videos.

“What we’re teaching here is hands-only CPR, and the research has shown that, when initiated quickly, hands-only CPR is as effective as conventional CPR for teens and adults who suddenly collapse due to cardiac arrest,” Yang said. “And so, learning a skill as simple as hands-only CPR is really important because those seconds matter.”

Abella cited the importance of early CPR delivery, saying that chances of survival fall by around 10% every minute that cardiac arrest is untreated. 

While Abella said that he hopes the event reaches 500 students, he said that he would view it as a success even if several hundred participated. College sophomore Akin Adio, MERT’s CPR officer, added that he hopes the event will raise awareness of cardiac arrest.

“Promoting campus safety has always been MERT’s priority,” Adio said. “We just want to promote cardiac arrest awareness and provide accessible CPR education, as we have in the past.”

Yang echoed Adio’s sentiments and said that he hopes for students to be prepared in the event of a crisis.

“We really hope to increase the knowledge of CPR on campus and the ability of students to help in any emergencies that may arise,” Yang said. “We want to equip students with the skills to be able to recognize and respond to something as life threatening as a cardiac arrest.”

The CPR program will take place during American Heart Month, and will be especially meaningful in light of Damar Hamlin’s recent cardiac arrest during a National Football League game. 

Adio also added that he has a personal connection to CPR education.

“A couple months ago, one of my friends had a cardiac arrest in his dorm room,” Adio said. “And I was there, with the help of some of my friends, to perform CPR and get him to help, and luckily he’s alive and breathing today.”

Abella said that MERT will also take on a community-based AED project that will take place in multiple Pa. counties "to see if we can better coordinate and link AEDs with providers.” 

“If this event goes well, we’re definitely heavily considering doing something similar in the future,” Yang said. “For example, we may do something in which we would have all of the incoming freshman at Penn trained in hands-only CPR during one of the required sessions during NSO.”